GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As progress is made to vaccinate people 16 and up against COVID-19, health officials warn of outbreaks of other preventable diseases if child vaccination rates don’t improve.
The ‘I Vaccinate’ campaign gathered health officials from around the state for a virtual press conference Monday morning. The group released vaccination rates for Michigan children between 19 months and 36 months old have fallen below 70% in 42 of Michigan’s 83 counties.
According to February data from the Michigan Care Improvement Registry, the 10 areas with the lowest vaccination rates for those ages are: Oscoda County (45.2%), the city of Detroit (49%), Gladwin County (55.9%), Iron County (58.3%), Lake County (59.2%), Clare County (59.3%), Otsego County (59.9%), Mackinac County (60.7%), Cass County (61%) and Houghton County (61.3%).
“As a mother, I urge you today to reach out to your child’s health care provider to make an appointment to get children and adolescents caught up on these lifesaving vaccines,” I Vaccinate founder Veronica McNally said at the beginning of the press conference.
In 2012, McNally and her husband Sean lost their 3-month-old daughter Francesca to whooping cough.
Measles was also mentioned as a concern if vaccination rates don’t increase.
“In order to achieve the herd immunity we need to prevent measles from spreading, we need to be at least 90% and really above 95%. So, we are about 20% lower than where we need,” Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Immunization Division Director Bob Swanson said. “As things begin to open up, as we get more people vaccinated for COVID, people start traveling and moving, we’ll see an increased exposure to vaccine-preventable diseases and my fear is we’re going to have another pandemic take place of what we’re experiencing now with COVID.”
If you have questions about getting your children their shots, you should check the CDC’s recommendations for vaccine scheduling.